Interview » Intervju | 29 Velika je privilegija imati u svom gradu priliku da na Bitefu decenijama pratite najveće rezultate u sferi evropskog i svetskog teatra It is a great privilege to have the opportunity, in one’s own city, to spend decades attending Bitef and following the greatest results achieved in the field of European and world theatre cludes the exceptional play “Cement Belgrade”, which is based on a text written by Milan Ramšak Marković and directed by Bitef award-winning Slovenian director Sebastijan Horvat. Both plays represent the new ID card of the BDT, with their extraordinary directorial poetics, and we also expect them to mark the upcoming festival.” Why is Bitef important; are we on the “edge of the future”, and what does that actually mean? “Bitef remains one of themost important European festivals.Wemust nurture andpreserve it, because it’s important to the cultural identity of both the city of Belgrade and our country. Our planet has actually brought itself to the brink of survival. How tomove forward, how to understandnewcircumstances, how to prepare for new challenges?These are all topics that confront humanity, and Bitef attempts to address them and perhaps offer some answers. This year's edition places an emphasis on ecology.” Is it time for art to take the lead in the fight for the planet? Can theatre influence global changes in that sense? “Theatre doesn’t have that power. It can never influence in a formal sense, but it can raise certain important topics, initiate media reactions, highlight anomalies and support true values. This world would look far nobler andmore organised if the theatre was asked more.” Why is Bitef important to Belgrade, and why is it important to you? Do you remember any plays or artists that changed your life in some way? “Already when I was a student, together with my colleagues, I grew up through Bitef and we recognised our own visions through the greatest names in directing and authors. It is a great privilege to have the opportunity, in one’s own city, to spend decades attending Bitef and following the greatest results achieved in the field of European and world theatre. I learned from Leo Dodin, Roberto Ciulli, Thomas Ostermeier, Ljubiša Ristić, Frank Castorf and others who are among the greatest in the history of theatre.” But let’s get back to the BDT: what are you planning for the new season? “We’ll have another four premieres before the end of 2021.Within the scope of thework of the Budva City Theatre, alongside cooperation with the City Theatre from Podgorica, we will stage The Green Felt of Montenegro, based on the novel by Momo Kapor and Zuka Džumhur, and directed by NikitaMilivojević.Then, within the framework of Bitef, there’s the aforementioned Living Roomby ErsanMondtag, in a co-production with Bitef Festival and the BitefTheatre. Arriving in October is In the Jaws of Life, based on the novel by Dubravka Ugrešić, with adaptation by Biljana Srbljanović and under the direction of Andrej Nosov. For the end of the year, in a co-production with ZKM from Zagreb, we will have the premiere performance of Mayenburg’s play The Stone, directed by Patrik Lazić. Alongside everything previously performed, that will be the BDT’s 11th premiere in 2021.” A major shift can be felt in the theatre and in the repertoire. What are your key guiding principles as a manager? “The BDT is the oldest Belgrade theatre, having been founded on 12th August 1947, and it was a leader in the founding of many theatres across the Balkans. During these two years that I’ve been at the helm, I’ve been trying to create a strong, modern, high-quality theatre, which brings together the best authors in the country, the region and Europe, places an emphasis on the acting ensemble, brings in the most talented young actors, andwhich, alongside an already excellent ensemble, also gathers the best, proven actors from the region. We are moving towards regional co-productions and the opening up of the theatre towards Europe, taking care of our audiences, both those accustomed to the more traditional theatre, but also those younger ones who desire an attractive and modern theatre.” Are you now also engaged as a director; what are your plans in that field? “The engagement as administrator of such an important theatredoesn’t leavemuchroom to deal with directing. I think that, over the next two years that remain onmy termat the BDT, I will dedicate myself exclusively to my theatre, because we are awaited by the implementing of big plans. Considering that I’ve directed 120 plays in my 30-year career as a director to date, it’s okay for me to take a break on that front.” How has your life changed since you’ve been at the helm of the BDT? “My priorities, life rhythmandwork have changed, obligations have increased, with less time left for family and other activities, but the results achieved so far in the theatre’s work giveme satisfaction, so it’s worth continuing.”